Anonymous Twitter account in Alberta warns residents of lengthy wait times for ambulance services. Union representing Alberta paramedics and EMTs worries that provincial cuts will make problem worse.
Edmonton (18 Feb. 2015) — Some Alberta paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMT) are using an anonymous Twitter account to highlight the province's excessive wait times for ambulance services. The Twitter account is called @StatusCodeRed.
Code Red situations
The tweets warn residents of so-called "Code Red" situations. Elisabeth Ballermann, President of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE) told CBC news that Code Red means "the system is so clogged that there is not an ambulance available to respond to our needs."
Ballermann, told CBC News that sometimes Code Red means there is not a single ambulance available. Sometimes, in urban centres, there are only one or two available.
The information in @StatusCodeRed updates reflects what EMT and paramedic members around the province are telling the union.
Members expressed concerns in province-wide survey
Ballermann told the CBC that the union has informed Alberta Health Services (AHS) about these issues as reported in member surveys in 2011, 2012, and 2014. The Health Minister Stephen Mandel has heard from the union about its concerns.
Listen to the CBC radio interview with Elisabeth Ballermann by clicking here.
Bad situation to be made worse by cutbacks
"In Grande Prairie, where somebody calls 911, the nearest ambulance is two hours away … our dispatchers aren't even able to tell the public that your ambulance is going to be a half an hour when you might be two minutes from the hospital and might get there faster by putting your family member in a car.
"They simply say, 'Yes, we have dispatched an ambulance and that ambulance may be a long time coming.'"
Ballermann added that members are worried that current wait-time problems will only get worse if the province brings in cuts to services in the provincial budget.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE